Williamson County is pleased to announce the 395th District Court, led by Judge Ryan Larson, is the recipient of a $15,000 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation.
Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $21 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation's largest charitably-funded bar foundation.
The funds will be used to support the start of the Williamson County Family Recovery Court. The program was created as an alternative to the traditional processing of Child Protective Services (CPS) cases involving abuse or neglect caused by parents suffering from substance abuse disorders, and any other co-occurring disorders.
The initiative came together following eye-opening statistics that show child abuse and neglect in Williamson County continues to be a growing problem. From 2014, to 2018, there were 882 CPS cases that resulted in the removal of a child from their home.
“Williamson County is a community committed to strong families. The Family Recovery Court is a coalition designed to support our families when they find themselves in crisis. We are proud to add the Texas Bar Foundation – with its rich legacy – to our efforts,” said 395th District Court Judge Larson.
Once launched, the Family Recovery Court will utilize a multi-disciplinary team, which will include the presiding judge, Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS), prosecutors, attorneys, the guardian, case-managers, treatment providers, and existing community resources, all working together for the livelihood of the child or children involved, and the success of the family as a whole.
The parent or parents will be enrolled into the program with the goal of completing specific tasks such as, showing the ability to demonstrate continuous level of abstinence from drugs and alcohol for a sustainable long-term recovery, they must satisfy treatment and safety concerns, and they should prove the establishment of a healthy household for their children will be met.
Incentives and graduated sanctions will be used to reinforce positive behavior and hold parents and primary caregivers accountable during their participation in the program. The idea is to mend and create healthy home environments and bring families together, where a removal of the child has already occurred.
Through this model, the Family Recovery Court aims to increase the rate of return of children to the family, and help reduce the possibility of parents reentering the CPS system due to failure of compliance.
During the Tuesday, May 5, 2020, Commissioners Court meeting, the County Commissioners unanimously approved accepting the grant to support the Williamson County Family Recovery Court, which will be launched by Judge Larson June 1, 2020.